Fitness Trend Alert: Barre Class
By Nicole M. Spooner
Lotte Berk Method. Barre Fitness, Fitness Barre, Barre Body, TigerBarre, Turbo Barre, Bar Method, barre3, Cardio Barre, BarreConcept…Whatever name it goes by, barre class is one of the hottest “new” fitness classes of the year. Its originations on the west coast and east coast have finally pooled into the Midwest, and although there aren’t as many barre studios as yoga studios, it is clear that the new exercise’s following is growing.
While the class may be considered a “trend” in the industry, it is important to note its roots are derived from classical ballet, which dates back to the 1700s. Though ballet is considered an art rather than a sport, the athleticism required of dancers should not go unnoticed. Aside from the fact that participants get an amazing workout, they have a rare chance to experience a sampling of the rigorous training the seemingly waif-like, albeit incredibly strong, dancers do in order to execute the moves that appear so effortless.
Don’t let the history of the barre scare you away. Most barre classes are designed for the non-dancer by former dancers, who want to share the secrets of toning your thighs, arms, and abs. These classes guarantee to transform your body into the long, lean look of a dancer. The trick is to keep going back.
Candace Nelson, a content editor for a high traffic website, was comfortable with her workout routine of yoga and running. But then felt too comfortable and decided it was time for a change.
The Bar Method is based on the technique of ‘The Lotte Berk Method.’ Berk was a German dancer who fled to London from the Nazis in the late 1930s. Her career path evolved, and she developed a method of exercise for women derived from her ballet training. One of her students, Lydia Bach, brought the technique to Manhattan in the 1970s and from there, franchises started sprinkling across the U.S. But in 2005, the Manhattan flagship shut down, causing many instructors to branch out and develop their own brand. Physique 57 was one of those brands created by a follower of The Lotte Berk Method, who partnered with an instructor of the same technique.
Nelson wanted a new challenge, and she found it with her barre classes.
“I love the hand weights work. That was where I lacked strength in my upper body,” Nelson stated. “The thigh work is also amazing, you feel like you did something.”
Nelson felt that a barre class would be hard for a “newbie” to jump into, but having a strong yoga background helped her transition.
The class moves fairly quickly. If you are new to the class, make sure you let your teacher know so they can offer modifications for the more advanced exercises. Like with any exercise, don’t be afraid to listen to your body. Don’t push through pain. Take a break, slow down, do less reps. Just like weightlifting, you need to build up your strength and flexibility in the class. You wouldn’t expect to be able to dead lift 200 pounds out of the blue, so be prepared to gradually increase the movements.
For a unique twist on socializing, gather your girlfriends and make it your New Year’s resolution to have happy hours at the barre – and not the bar. Burn calories this holiday season, instead of consuming them. Make it a date night with your boyfriend or husband, because couples that sweat together are more likely to have healthier relationships. And be prepared to sculpt and burn fat in a class that truly is a body-changing experience.
Nicole studied Creative Writing and Mass Communications – Journalism. She is a certified yoga instructor and former ballet dancer. Currently Nicole teaches ballet and barre fitness for Continental Ballet Company.